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Mesh laundry bags to collect your washables are certainly readily available in stores and online, and they can be relatively inexpensive to purchase. However, they usually aren’t as well-made as you’d like, or maybe you need a special teeny-tiny size for baby socks, or want a fun color to tempt an otherwise messy teen to pick up his underwear. Time to bust out a few of your own. They’re super easy; we made our two samples in nothing flat. 

The bags can be used to simply gather up your washables to carry to the laundry room. Or you can pop the whole kit and caboodle into the washer and dryer.

Breathable mesh helps minimize odors if the bag sits for awhile prior to laundering. Then, once you pop it in the wash, that same mesh helps the water and soap flow through, as well as the warm air of the dryer if your washables are also “dry-ables.”

Fabric mesh is available in a variety of of weights and sizes. We recommend a lightweight mesh for these bags. Our choice was a handy mesh pre-cut (18″ x 54″) from ByAnnie, which comes in a variety of cool colors.

Consider making the large size bag in school colors to send back to a certain someone’s college dorm room in hopes of collecting a semester’s worth of dirty laundry.

Fill the small size bag with some little washcloths and organic cleaning products as an innovative baby shower idea.

A toggle and drawcord cinch the top closed. If you’re worried about the tails of the cording flipping about inside your washer, tie together the ends then feed them to the inside of the bag. Give the toggle one last squeeze, and you’re ready to tumble.

As you’ll see in the steps below, it’s important to finish the seams. Even though the mesh is quite soft, you want as smooth a bag as possible in order to protect delicate fabrics from catching on the raw edges. Use the modified French seam technique we show below or check out our four-part series on Machine Sewn Seam Finishes.

Our large bag finishes at approximately 18” wide x 24” high and the small bag at 12” wide x 18” high.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: The amounts specified are plenty for the small bag but just enough for the large bag. If you’re worried about your cutting skills, get a little bit extra. You’ll have plenty of width, but might want a bit more depth. As mentioned below, we used the (18” x 54”) packaged mesh, which was plenty for each size.

Large Bag: 18” wide x 24″ high

Small Bag: 12” wide x 18″ high

Both Bags

  • All purpose thread to match both colors of mesh
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Pressing cloth to protect the mesh when ironing
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Large safety pin
  • Lighter or similar to seal the ends of the paracord

Getting Started

Large Bag:

  1. From the top mesh, cut TWO 18½” x 17½” rectangles.
    NOTE: The mesh is non-directional, so if using the 18″ x 54″ pre-cut we recommend, you would need to cut these pieces, as well as the bottom pieces, on the horizontal (17½” x 18½”).
  2. Also from the top mesh cut TWO 1″ x ¾” rectangles for the buttonhole reinforcement.
  3. From the bottom mesh, cut TWO 18½” x 8½” rectangles.
    NOTE: As mentioned above, we cut on the horizontal, 8½” x 18½”.
  4. Cut the cording into ONE 50″ length.

Small Bag:

  1. From the top mesh, cut TWO 12½” wide x 13½” high rectangles.
  2. Also from the top mesh cut TWO 1″ x ¾” rectangles for the buttonhole reinforcement.
  3. From the bottom mesh, cut TWO 12½” wide x 6½” high rectangles.
  4. Cut the cording into ONE 42″ length.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

NOTE: The two bags are constructed in exactly the same manner. We used the smaller bag for our in-progress photography sample.

Body of the bag

  1. Find the upper and lower panels. You should have one pair for the front and one for the back.
  2. Pin one top mesh panel to one bottom mesh panel along one 12½” edge.
  3. Thread the machine with thread to best match the bottom mesh in the top and to best match the top mesh in the bobbin
  4. Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch the two panels together.
  5. Finger press the seam towards the bottom panel. 
  6. Topstitch along the seam within the bottom panel (the pink panel in our sample). This will secure the seam in position, facing down.
  7. Repeat with the remaining top and bottom panels.
  8. Place the front and back right sides together, carefully matching the horizontal seam lines. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom.
  9. Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.

    NOTE: We took the time to change our thread (top and bobbin) from black to pink. To do this, we stitched both sides down to the horizontal seams with black thread in the top and bobbin. We then re-threaded to pink in the top and bobbin and finished the seam along both lower sides and across the bottom.
  10. Turn the bag right side out.
  11. Using a ¼” seam allowance, topstitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. Again, we took the time to change thread colors from the black at the top to the pink at the bottom. This finishes the seam allowance all around.

    NOTE: This is a quick and easy variation on a traditional French Seam finish. It works well here because the mesh is very thin and it’s best to have as few seams on the inside of the bag as possible in order to minimize anything that could snag delicate items being laundered in the bag. To learn how to make more traditional French Seams, read our tutorials on the French Seam Finish and the Mock French Seam Finish

Drawcord channel

  1. Find the two small pieces of matching mesh you cut to reinforce the buttonhole area.
  2. Along the top raw edge of what will be the front of the bag, find and mark the center. Measure ½” to the left of center and ½” to the right of center. Place pins at each point.
  3. Layer the two pieces of mesh on the inside of the bag, placing them between the pins. Line up all the mesh as best you can and pin in place.
  4. Following the instructions for your machine, center a ½” horizontal buttonhole on the layered rectangle. You are stitching on the front of the panel and the extra layers of mesh are acting as a stabilizer underneath.
  5. Carefully cut open the buttonhole.
  6. Fold down the top raw edge of the bag approximately ½” all the way around. Lightly pin in place. The buttonhole should be centered within this fold and should be facing out on the right side of the front panel. You want the opening to the drawcord channel on the outside of the bag.
  7. Re-thread if necessary with thread to best match the top mesh. Edgestitch all the way around, securing the raw edge and creating a drawcord channel.
  8. Attach the safety pin to one end of the cording. Insert through the buttonhole opening.
  9. Feed the cording through the channel all the way around, coming back out through the buttonhole.
  10. Lightly burn the ends of the cording to seal.
  11. Thread the ends of the cording through the toggle. Depending on the toggle you choose, it may be a tight fit. Layer the cord one on top of the other and squeeze tightly to feed through. In addition, you can tightly tape together the ends with a cellophane tape to more easily keep them together while feeding.
  12. Once fed through, cinch up the bag and check the length of the paracaord tails. If you feel they are too long, you can trim the ends to your desired length. If so, lightly burn the ends again to seal.
  13. Knot the ends together.


Project Concept: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild

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Sherry Torrey
Sherry Torrey
6 years ago

Make a small one for each

Make a small one for each family member for sox!  That way, you won’t have to sort for each child or adult when the laundry comes out of the dryer!  and the washer won’t eat them!

Nancy Frender
Nancy Frender
6 years ago

Great for packing items when

Great for packing items when traveling,  help keep your suitcase in order and handy for laundering undergarments in hotel sink.. Thank you,

Carolyn Barkow
Carolyn Barkow
6 years ago

Terrific reusable produce

Terrific reusable produce bags. Thanks.

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